You might have noticed our Windows 7 Inside Out give-away. Before we give the book as prizes, we've thought it would be good to also review it, so that our readers know more about what they will get. Therefore, this article will look in detail at Windows 7 Inside Out, written by Ed Bott, Carl Siechert and Craig Stinson.
NOTE: this review is based on the eBook version. We did not evaluate the printed copy which also comes with a CD.
First Impressions - Positive
My first contact with the book was very positive. Everything about it feels and looks very professional. It starts with the structure which covers everything you need: installing Windows 7, managing hardware devices, configuring your network connection, visual configuration, tweaking and configuring almost every aspect of the operating system, etc. The design and layout of each page also does a great job: you have a pretty good balance between text and pictures, screenshots with labels for the important elements, boxes which stand out and highlight important tips to remember or caution items.
Every Chapter = Practical Content
One of the things I loved about the book is the fact that it is filled with practical content. It is not about dry computing theory. Everything is very well explained and you actually understand how everything works, why it was designed the way it is and how to make Windows 7 do what you need. For example, in the second chapter (Installing and Configuring Windows 7), there is a subsection offering tips on how to avoid software compatibility problems in Windows 7. When detailing how to install Windows 7, it also has a troubleshooting page for people who cannot boot from their Windows 7 DVD. This page has really useful tips which also covers netbook owners which don't have a DVD Rom drive available for use. Before showing how to personalize and configure your Windows 7, the book has a pretty big chapter about how to obtain help and support. I really loved this, as very few books and websites show this. Actually, it made me think that we should start our own series of articles on 7 Tutorials about how people can get help. Thanks for that, Ed! 🙂 Another positive thing about the book is the fact that, in each chapter, there are special sections which share great tips about how to tweak different aspects of Windows 7 (making the 'Send To' menu show more options, creating a detailed inventory of installed drivers, etc.) or important watch-outs about what to avoid doing. Also, the authors of the book did not hesitate covering more controversial but very interesting aspects of the operating system, such as Digital Rights Management (DRM) and how to work with (and around) it. Reading this chapter provided some interesting insights even for a power user like me, who's been testing and writing Windows tutorials for almost 4 years.
True Experts Debunking Myths
One of the things we've been trying to do with our Genuine Help for Windows 7 series, was to openly talk about the sites which offer true Windows 7 help and those which publish untested tips. We are tired of browsing through so many subpar websites and eBooks which pretend to offer expert advice and they only offer "tips" which ruin your computing experience. It was refreshing to see that Ed, Carl and Craig are on the good side and the force is strong with them. Every now and then, you will see them debunking a few common myths about Windows. The ones I enjoyed most are:
Myth #1: If your computer has a large amount of memory installed, you should eliminate your page file completely.
Myth #2: Creating a page file of a fixed size improves performance.
I must admit that, at some point in time, I actually believed in myth number 2. I was lucky actual experience proved me wrong in the meantime. The explanations they offer are very logical and make lots of sense. While reading them, you can easily see that the authors know what they are talking about and they offer only tips which are tested and proved to work.
Regarding improvement areas - there is very little to tell. If you are a beginner, you might need even more in-depth instructions and screenshots. The authors do explain everything in a professional manner, but they don't show you button by button what you need to do. If you are a beginner to computing and Windows 7, then the book will be a bit advanced and you will feel the need for more detailed instructions. Windows 7 Inside Out doesn't want to be a beginner's guide to Windows 7 but rather an in-depth guide for people familiar with computers and Windows, who really want to understand this new operating system. Except this, there's not much that can be 'improved' - the book is very well written.
The ultimate benefit of this book is that you will gain a true understanding of Windows 7, its features and how it works. If you are the power-user type or want to become one, then this book is a MUST BUY. I've encountered very few technical books which are so well written. If you are a beginner in computing or a true system admin with lots of experience, then this book might not be that great. Even so, I still believe you'll find more useful information than you would think.